Employees Gamble at Work
By Linda
Seventy-eight percent of companies polled in a recent FBI/Computer Security Institute survey reported that they detected employees abusing their Internet access privileges.

The misuse ranged from gambling in the office to downloading bandwidth-sucking movies or porn, gambling, trading stock, emailing sexually explicit or racist jokes and even sending out critical corporate information.

'It's a huge problem and unfortunately most companies aren't doing much of anything about it,' says Brian Dunphy, director of analysis operations at RipTech Incorporated, a security analyst and consulting firm. 'A lot of companies have provided free Internet access and haven't provided guidelines.”

Before cracking down on Internet access abuse at her family's 60-year-old auto dealership Vidmar Motor Company, the IT director there found a few employees were spending as much as six out of their eight-hour work day on the Internet -- playing games, gambling, buying stock and even downloading porn.

'They obviously weren't doing their job,' says Shawn Vidmar, IT director at the $40 million, 85-employee dealership based in Pueblo, Colo.

Today, Vidmar is keeping employees in check and off the online playground by throwing everything in her IT arsenal at the problem: new policies, employee education, monitoring software and increased network vigilance.

'Productivity was being compromised...And I was worried about corporate liability. If somebody gets offended by an email, they could go after the company,' says Vidmar. 'Sending out an email from here is like sending it out on Vidmar letterhead. I would hate to lose [the business] my grandfather started 60 years ago over a bad Internet joke.' He installed an appliance that tracks and analyzes network traffic.

And Vidmar isn't alone with this problem.

Bruce Hughes, content security lab manager at ICSA Labs, a division of security consulting firm TruSecure Corp. in Herndon, Vancouver, says workplace Internet abuse goes beyond wasting time playing games instead of finishing a report or helping customers.

'Somebody accesses their Yahoo or Hotmail account from their desk. They get their email and run an attachment and all of a sudden there's a virus loose in the company' explains Hughes.

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